As Schools Pause, Big Ten Vote May Happen ‘Very Soon’

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The Big Ten’s decision to cancel its fall football season has caused much strife, but the conference could reverse that decision and formulate a plan to return to play yet in 2020.

247 Sports reports that Nebraska president Ted Carter said that a vote to return to play could happen “very soon,” in an interview on local radio station KLIN

“There is an awful lot of work still going on with the return to play committee for which chancellor Ronnie Green, Athletic Director Bill Moos and coach Scott Frost are on,” Carter said. “They're putting together some plans that the presidents and chancellors will vote on very soon. The fight is still on. We have been aligned here in this state from the get go … .we feel it's safe to play here. That's our theme here and we’re still strong on that.”

Whether or not the Big Ten plays football has become a political question, with elected representatives from state legislatures all the way up to the President of the United States weighing in. 

On Wednesday, a bi-partisan group of Nebraska state senators penned a letter to Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren and to the conference's Council of Presidents and Chancellors urging them to "reconsider its decision in a more transparent manner.” That move came a day after elected leaders from six states sent a letter of their own to the group, also asking them to reconsider.

Carter said that some speculated that he had asked the White House to intervene when President Trump called Warren — but refuted that he was involved.

“Every email I've typed out in the last year has been shared with the media,” Carter said. “Even when President Trump called Kevin Warren, somebody thought that I might have directed that at the White House. So I had those emails pulled and I can confirm that that did not happen. We're going to be honest and straightforward.”

Meanwhile, Ohio governor Mike DeWine said at a news conference this week that he believes a Big Ten football season is still in play. 

"I think there certainly is a decent chance of there being a season in football for the Big Ten, for Ohio State, which is what we're really concerned about," DeWine said. "I talked to Gene Smith this morning about that issue. I'm not going to disclose our conversation other than I inquired about it. He told me it was still in play, still very much a possibility."

Despite the increased political pressure, some Big Ten schools have paused football activities this week due to outbreaks on campus. Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez paused football and hockey on Wednesday, following a call by chancellor Rebecca Blank to shut down campus for two weeks, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. StateCollege.com reports that Penn State athletics were also put on pause this week, after 48 positive COVID-19 cases were identified among student-athletes. 

Chicago Tribune reporter Teddy Greenstein wrote on Twitter that a vote on Big Ten football would come this weekend “at the earliest,” but that a Sunday or Monday vote is also possible.

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